Top prospects await their future at NHL draft, with Canadian teams front and centre

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - On the eve of finding out his hockey future, Logan Brown admitted to a case of the nerves.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/06/2016 (2247 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – On the eve of finding out his hockey future, Logan Brown admitted to a case of the nerves.

“It’s tough,” said the six-foot-six, 220-pound centre from the Windsor Spitfires. “Like it’s the greatest time of my life, but it’s also the worst. I’m ready for it to happen. Just real anxious.”

Brown likely won’t have to wait long. The big centre from Chesterfield, Mo., who is the son of former NHLer Jeff Brown, is ranked seventh among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Canadian teams will figure prominently in Friday night’s draft, with Toronto picking first, Winnipeg second, Edmonton fourth, Vancouver fifth, Calgary sixth, Montreal ninth and Ottawa 12th.

But Canadian talent may have to wait its turn behind U.S. and other foreign players.

American Auston Matthews is expected to go first overall, followed by Finns Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Brown may be anxious but the well-spoken 18-year-old is mature enough to keep things in perspective.

“When you look at it closely, it’s tough and it’s stressful. But when you really look back and you look at the position that we’re in, it’s going to be awesome. We’re getting drafted in the NHL (Friday) night. It’s what I’ve been working for for about 16 years now.”

Against a backdrop of Lake Erie, with the Edmund M. Cotter fireboat spouting water nearby for show, top prospects met the media Thursday afternoon.

While Brown admitted to butterflies, it seemed just another day at the office for Matthews. The six-foot-two 216-pound centre, who excelled playing in the top Swiss league last season, was as cool as a cucumber in front of the media.

“I’m definitely enjoying it,” he said of the pre-draft experience. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Not every 18-year-old is in this position, in this situation. So for me, I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Matthews seems ready for anything — even playing in the fishbowl that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. He says he is unfazed by being tagged with a franchise centre label.

“To me it’s fine. That’s obviously what I want to be — a No. 1 centreman. I like watching guys like Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews. I think if you look at those two and how much of a factor they are to these teams, it’s something I really like to watch.”

While Matthews fielded questions about being the next big thing, Mississauga winger Alexander Nylander found himself fielding questions from older brother William, who has already turned heads in the Leafs’ organization.

“Are you nervous,” asked William, wielding a Leafs TV microphone.

“Not at all,” replied Alexander.

“Do you think you’ll go higher than me,” asked William, who was taken eighth overall in the 2014 draft.

“I think so,” said Alexander.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” said a laughing William.

The 2016 draft is seen as deep in all positions with the exception of goaltender. The first round goes Friday night at the First Niagara Center, with the other rounds scheduled for Saturday.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

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